What if you throw a Winter Olympic, invited the whole world, and all that doesn't show up is winter?
Peter Healy, Vancouverite
We're hours away to the opening of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Vancouver is still brown and smelly. Fingers are crossed and bums are tight hoping all will go well and Canada owns the podium.
Lord knows the corporate sponsors own everything else associated with the "Games." If the hills soon don't come alive with the sound of snow falling or the grey skies clearing, we may well just own the odium.
I take no joy in criticizing the events surrounding the Games in Vancouver. I love the tremendous high-level competition between human beings doing things that, if I tried them would land me in traction, if I survived at all. It's increasingly clear the Olympics are for those with more and more, less for those with less and less.
Of course, some people have been saving their loonies for years in order to buy tickets for Olympic events. It's true these Games will be open to all, but sometimes it appears the seriously rich are getting the lion's share of tickets to the big events. No one really can say, with any certainty, what the financial legacy will be for anyone, let alone the taxpayers who put up much of the seed money.
The security budget alone is coming in at close to two billion dollars. There have been news reports the provincial government has spent over a million dollars on tickets. The Feds have thrown in half a millimetre and certain municipalities, such as Vancouver or Whistler, are in on the 'tickets for cronies' deal.
Welcome to Communist Russia, home of all the free and thoughtful politburo workers get what the leaders tell them what they want!
Given the already recognized and documented Olympic Family, where most of the best tickets go, in the first place, what we may be witnessing is a farce, which we have paid for, while our roads and public infrastructure collapse around us, 800 teachers getting lay-off notices and health budgets evaporate across the province. "Where is the 'legacy," Gordo?
A few weeks ago, I saw a clip on television where Roberto Luongo, captain of the local "Canucks," was visiting at building that'll be the recreational centre during the games, a place for Olympians and their families or friends to meet, a place to relax and watch the games on big TV screens. Roberto thought this was a great idea, the idea behind the games. What did her say? Well, it's true: you and I can drop by and enjoy the music and all the wonder, in side, for a $99 entrance fee.
Yes, Robert, this is true spirit of the games. What, Roberto, if I need a small or urinal, only for a minute or two? I used to think a quarter was a lot.
The organizers gave Joe and Janet Doe, a post-Olympic name to avoid creditors, the name once spelled Dough, a break. Originally, the cost to enter the recreation centre was $439.00. How generous of the organizers.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) came downhill hard on the Australians, who hung a flag of a boxing glove sporting kangaroo outside their accommodations. This breached some corporate sponsorship restriction. The IOC and Australians made some kind of deal and everyone seemed happy, again and for a while.
Now, the IOC prevents an Aussie Olympian from wearing a bracelet, in memory of a departed friend. The bracelet has some reference to having a Morgan's day, likely in reference to the rum makers. It's sponsorship, claims the IOC, and we don't get a cut.
It's sheer bloody lunacy and paranoia. The litany of the IOC stamping out protest and protecting their corporate sponsors is quite shameful and silly. All acts in the name of money.
Earlier reports, from the New York "Times," claim the owners of Whistler-Blackcomb are going down and with them any events scheduled for the Winter Games there will not happen. Maybe Whistler-Blackcomb wants to move some games to Mont Tremblay, which is also owns. Follow the money.
Today, the only problem is the fog. The women's downhill trials, yesterday, were cancelled cause the skiers could not see the flags. While such conditions and cancellations aren't uncommon, for the Olympics. Still, some members of the Vancouver Committee must be keeping all Canadian-mittened fingers and ski toes crossed.
Could this be the Canadian Fogged-out Olympics, entered long side the 1962 Grey Cup Fog Bowl? Al Shea is needed to record another great moment in Canadian sports history? Sports the Canadian way, in a fog, or is that politics?
Meanwhile, the venue at Cypress Bowl remains brown. One news pundit opined this gives new meaning to Canadians winning their first gold medal on their home soil! No one seems to be in a state of panic.
Snow has come, via trucks, from all over, for the past few weeks. At last report, no one allowed in to see the Cypress Bowl. Last report is our Canadian moguls champions hit the hills early tomorrow and quite possibly bring in our first gold medal. Go Jen Go!
No one can deny the spirit of the flame and the Games. Is it really so bad when something, like sports, brings out the best in us? It is a
bit heart wrenching to see kids standing on city sidewalks waving Canadian flags as the Olympic torch goes by.
It is a balance. This is not necessarily a case of 'good versus evil'. There are more worthwhile causes that the Olympics. Causes where money is well spent and the return to the taxpayer may be minimal, if there is any return at all. As I see essential services threatened or downsized, I hardly think a two-week feel-good session will make me forget about all
Alternatively, keep the politicians' feet to the fire after the Games.
I support the protest march downtown. Still, I watched the opening ceremonies on TV. I'll enjoy the athletes competing over the next two weeks. I happily cheer, "Go Canada Go," no, don't be nice people and let others win because you don't want to hurt their feelings.
I realize puts me in a somewhat hypocritical, playing both sides. So be it. Embrace the contradiction. The Olympics are here. It is no longer for me a point of protesting, but more one of witnessing reminder. A reminder, to those at the top, I am not buying into the trickle-down theory of payment. A reminder to the top that when poop hits the fan and there are no great economic benefits to the people, of British Columbia, there will be one last where-the-sun don't-shine place to stick the Olympic torch, in the ballot box, and they should resign from office, now. If the poop hits the fan, there'll be many politicians scrambling to get out of Dodge, wishing they'd kept those Fast Ferries.
Bob Stark is a musician, poet, philosopher and couch potato. He spends his days, as did Jean-Paul Sarte and Albert Camus, pouring lattes and other adult beverages into a recycled mug, bearing a long and winding crack. He discusses, with much insight and passion, the existentialist and phenomenological ontology of the Vancouver 'Canucks,' a hockey team, "Archie" comic books and high school reunions. In other words, Bob Stark is a retired public servant living the good life on the wrong coast of Canada.
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